Nuclear Free Local Authorities Question Government Policy Of Deep Geological Disposal(GDF) Of Higher Activity Nuclear Waste (HAW)

Briefing NO. 58 prepared for NFLA member authorities, August 2015 NFLA response to Welsh Government Consultation on Geological Disposal of Higher Activity Wastes: Community Engagement and Implementation Processes: extracts

The NFLA made a number of detailed recommendations to the Welsh Government, and it believes the Welsh Government still needs to fully consider them in moving forward with a policy to manage higher activity waste. These include:

  • NFLA believes the Government should have a nuclear waste management policy that is always governed by a clear set of environmental principles -—
    1. The idea that radioactive waste can be “disposed” off be rejected in favour of radioactive waste managements; .
    2. Any process or activity that involves new or additional radioactive discharges into the environment be opposed, as this is potentially harmful to the human and natural environment; ‘
    3. The policy of ‘diiuteand disperse’ as a form of radioactive waste management be rejected in favour of a policy of ‘concentrate and contain’, storing safely on—site:
    4. The unnecessary transport of radioactive and other hazardous wastes be opposed;
    5. Waste should ideally be managed on-site where produced (or as near as possible to the site) in a facility that allows monitoring and retrieval of the wastes.
  • The Welsh Government should have reserved its position on ‘deep geological disposal’ until there is a recognition that the scientific research being carried out to demonstrate a safety case may, in fact, show that producing a robust safety case may not be possible.
  • NFLA emphasises this point by noting the considerable uncertainties in making a safety case to bury nuclear waste in a deep repository. it noted that any safety case will rely on computer models of extremely complex, geological, chemical, biological and physical environments. Any slight miscalculation or misunderstanding about how thousands of difference factors are interacting could mean that the rate of leakage turns out to be much faster than expected. if the waste has been irretrievably buried, the problem of radionuclides leaking at a faster rate than expected will not be possible to rectify.
  • NFLA asserted that the UK and Welsh Governments have failed to convey that geological disposal” remains far from a proven technology.
  • ‘Disposal’ implies getting rid of something, but placing waste in a deep geological facility is simply moving the waste from the surface environment to an underground environment. it does not ‘get rid of’ the waste. The key to the philosophy of deep geological disposal is that it removes . a burden from future generations. However, this would only be the case if radionuclides do not leak at a faster rate than expected. it may, in fact,- create a significant burden for future generations if radionuclides leak faster than expected.

The Government has tasked the British Geological Survey with afresh review of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for suitable nuclear waste sites…

All this has serious implications for Sizewell. If the East Anglian geology is deemed suitable, and the Government adopts the NFLAs proposals(above) – which would be much cheaper than a GDF – we may be saddled with a nuclear dump in virtual perpetuity…

All this has serious implications for Sizewell. If the East Anglian geology is deemed suitable, and

the Government adopts the NFLA’s proposals (above) — which would be much cheaper than a GDF we may be saddled with a nuclear dump in virtual perpetuity….